Coffs Coast birders spot rare Oriental Cuckoo

Cheryl Cooper’s photo of the Oriental Cuckoo she spotted in Coffs Harbour; a bird that breeds in Asia.

A STRANGE feathered friend surprised local Coffs Coast birders last week, giving them a very unusual sighting for our area.

On Wednesday 22 March Ellany Whelan and Cheryl Cooper were walking and peering as birders do, and suddenly saw the bird in a patch of bushland near Howard Street in Coffs Harbour.

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Both birders managed to take a photo of the visitor, curious to find out who this stranger was.

With a bit of investigating, it was identified as an Oriental Cuckoo, a bird that breeds in Asia, but does wander southwards in the northern winter, mostly to Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

“The Coffs Harbour bird must have decided to really go travelling,” Cheryl told News Of The Area.

“One of the brilliant, and frustrating, things about birding is that you never know what might turn up where.

“We wanted to stay close to home on Wednesday and just added this little foray in at the end of a few hours birding at Muttonbird Island.”

The birders were at the Men’s Shed end of Howard Street at about 11am and saw the bird fly from one tree to another and followed it.

“Luckily for us, it gave us a tree-top viewing before taking off and disappearing,” Cheryl said.

“Five minutes either side and we would probably have missed it and we had certainly not expected to see it,” she said.

“It is so important we keep these natural areas in and around Coffs Harbour; this is yet another reason not to over develop the jetty area.

“We simply will not get birds of this nature in a highly developed area,” said Cheryl.

Richard Jordan of Bellingen Birders congratulated Cheryl and Ellany for their skill in locating, photographing and identifying the bird.

He said that Oriental Cuckoos breed widely in northern Asia, including Russia, and then spend the winter further south, mainly in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Richard believes that the Coffs Harbour bird had an unusual wanderlust.


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